This month marked the debut of the next installment in the Doctor Strange movie franchise in the form of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 28th feature film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) from director Sam Raimi and writer Michael Waldron.
With a new Marvel movie comes a new mid and post-credits scene, and thus, a new tease at the future of Kevin Feige’s MCU. And the latest could mean the end of Benedict Cumberbatch’s former Sorcerer Supreme…
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuted on May 6, 2022, exclusively in movie theaters and found Cumberbatch’s Dr. Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange fighting every aspect of the Multiverse alongside newcomer Xochitl Gomez (America Chavez), Benedict Wong (Wong), Rachel McAdams (Dr. Christine Palmer), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Karl Mordo), and Avenger actress, Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch).
After months of teasers — and multiple spoiler trailers — the Marvel Phase Four sequel to Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange (2016) offered fans a deeper look inside the Multiverse. The MCU-altering Multiverse made its detailed debut in Michael Waldron and Kate Herron’s Loki series on Disney+, and then in the animated series, What If…?, before hitting the big screen, rather impressively, in Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). In Multiverse of Madness, more is revealed, bringing back familiar faces and some MCU newcomers.
*Warning: Spoilers Ahead for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness*
In true MCU fashion, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had a shocking mid-credits scene. Not only did the moment introduce a brand-new character to the live-action Marvel Universe, but it also seemingly set up the future of the Doctor Strange franchise and mimicked a surprising turn of events in the Marvel Comics canon.
When Charlize Theron, clad in purple and uttered the name Stephen Strange in the mid-credits scene of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it was evident that Clea had entered the MCU. In the Marvel mythos, Clea is the daughter of Umar and the niece of the Dark Dimension ruler, the evil Dormammu.
Recently, Clea has taken the reigns of the Sorcerer Supreme in the current run of the Doctor Strange comic books titled “Strange”. After the shocking demise of Doctor Strange during the “Death of Doctor Strange” event, Clea ascended to the title of Sorcerer Supreme, taking on villains like the Fantastic Four’s Doctor Doom.
The sorceress, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, would eventually become the wife of Stephen Strange so the possibilities for the future of Doctor Strange in the MCU are many. It is worth noting that Cumberbatch has stated he would love to play the Master of the Mystic Arts for years to come but who knows what will happen, especially if Marvel Studios stay close to the source material and kill off the character.
That being said, with many MCU actors readying their final bows as their beloved characters, the arrival of Theron’s Clea is likely a precursor to Cumberbatch being replaced sometime in the future, maybe following the same trajectory as the comic books.
Fans have already seen legacy actors like Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) exit the franchise, and next year will find the majority of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast leave the MCU. The potential introduction of Cumberbatch’s replacement in Clea sits in line with the many changes, and future team-ups, the MCU is heading towards.
Marvel studio boss, Kevin Feige, has been open about the future plans of the MCU; it is planned until at least 2032, seemingly including all of Marvel Phase Five, so chances are Theron’s Clea is involved somehow. Theron wasn’t the only surprise in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as the MCU debuted an iteration of the Illuminati including Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), and Reed Richards (John Krasinski). Unfortunately for some, there was no Tom Cruise as Iron Man in this Doctor Strange sequel.
Next up for the MCU is Chris Hemsworth’s (Thor), Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) from director Taika Waititi, with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022), and television shows like Ms. Marvel, What If…? Season 2, and She-Hulk also coming this year.
Do you think Charlize Theron’s Clea will take over from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange?